New Zealand marches towards a greener future; bans single-use plastic bags

Some 79 per cent of plastic waste produced now sits in landfill

This year 65,000 kiwis petitioned for an outright plastic bag ban.

When she made the announcement about the ban, she had three children read aloud their letters requesting the government to take action against the plastic pollution before leading them off to help clean up the beach.

"Every year in New Zealand we use hundreds of millions of single-use plastic bags - a mountain of bags, many of which end up polluting our precious coastal and marine environments and cause serious harm to all kinds of marine life", Efe news quoted a government statement as saying. "But it's important we take the time now to get this right so we can help all New Zealanders adjust their shopping habits".

In a press statement, Sage said she was confident New Zealanders, whether in support or not, would embrace the change.

New Zealand retailers - big and small - have welcomed the Government's plans to phase out single-use plastic bags over the next year.

Ms Sage wanted the public to give feedback on the best ways for this ban to be phased in - and has opened consultation until 14 September.

Last year, the Wellington City Council was a driving force behind a nationwide campaign that saw 90 percent of the country's mayors come on board a campaign asking the then National-led government to impose a point-of-sale levy on single-use plastic bags. "The crisis we're facing requires comprehensive regulation and corporate action to immediately move away from single-use plastics".

"Given the urgency and scale of the problem, there's an opportunity for New Zealand to become a world leader and demonstrate the strategic vision required to tackle the plastic crisis", says Hunter.

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"We need to be far smarter in the way we manage waste and this is a good start", she said.

"It's great that many people are already changing the way they shop".

The group said it would begin to offer a range of pay-for plastic-free reusable bags.

Steve Anderson, managing director of Foodstuffs NZ, said the Government's plans for a ban would put everyone in retail on the same page.

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The Warehouse introduced a charge for single-use plastic checkout bags back in 2009, with net proceeds given back to the local community.

Retailers are also being told to consider alternatives to single-use plastic bags, including reusable bags in heavier-duty plastic, composite bags of hessian with other materials, and long-lasting bags made of lightweight nylon, cotton, recycled fabric or jute.

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